Friday, April 01, 2005


"Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes all the pressure off the second." Robert Frost

I've spent the last two evenings in the company of writers. There's a big conference in town this weekend, The Associated Writing Program Conference (which I could not afford to attend) and as a result there are spin-off readings in a couple of different venues to accomodate writers who have come here from across Canada and the States.

Last night I went to a reception at a downtown lounge hosted by Talon Book Publishers who were also supporting the Pandora Collective of whom I'm a board director (my recently acquired position). It was a free event, but Pandoras was collecting books for Zimbabwe at the door (for a kids learning program.) The reception was quite the deal, well attended, trays of snacks put out and a cash bar (expensive though). There were couches and comfy chairs strewn around though this is obviously a disco place during the weekends. I settled in with my friends to listen. Unfortunately, before too long I was almost snoozing!

These are all popular writers, in particular a couple of the poets are supposed to be top-knotch (One is the poet laureate of Canada). One popular local poet is a total nut-case who performs gibberish (not a single word could be related to the English language. It was like Martian).
This is poetry?? The P.L. is rather pompous and his poetry was a tad dull. The only poet I liked out of the bunch was a young lady from Chicago. Among the prose readers there were only two I'd even consider buying books from. The rest were really boring. And this wasn't only my opinion. These are the published writers and it only served to remind me what a good writer I am and also several of my friends, though we haven't as yet had books published. So it makes you feel you have to keep working at it because maybe some day....(and I hope nobody says my stuff is boring. But I suppose if you don't like historical fiction you might.)

Tonight I spent the evening with magical realism and it was delightful. Most of the readers were from the States, but a couple were local. All are published and all very good. It was hosted by Bolts of Fiction, which I've been associated with and co-hosted by MARGIN an e-zine of magical realism from the States. Everyone was asked to write their definition of magical realism on a paper and submit it into a basket. Prizes were given for those drawn.
It was a lot of fun.

Afterwards there was a story circle, however by then it was midnight and I hadn't brought a story along. My friend did though, and it was her debut at reading publicly. She read two very well-written short pieces. I was proud of her. And especially since she's been in a couple of my writing classes and I know she's very talented!

I was thinking I wouldn't mind trying some magic realism myself. I do enjoy the Latin American writers. So I'm going to suggest we try some for fun on our next writer's group retreat weekend which will be the end of April.

As for my own writing program: I spent most of the afternoon today fighting with my darn printer. Yesterday I installed a new colour cartridge and bought new paper. But the stupid thing keeps stalling on me whenever it comes to a line typed in colour. It took me ages to print out part of what I needed today and by then I was totally frustrated. Let's hope for a better day tomorrow. (Yesterday, by the way, was the anniversary of the exectution in 317 BC of Phokion the Good, the military governor of Athens who I have been researching and writing about this week. I thought that was quite an interesting coincidence!)

So, on this April Fool day, here's a couple of thoughts for writers:
"A bad book is as much of a labour to write as a good one: it comes as sincerely from the author's soul." Aldous Leonard Huxley 1894-1963 "Point Counter Point" 1928 ch 13

"It is absurb to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The rapt reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an imortal wound -- that he will never get over it."
Robert Frost : "The Poetry of Amy Lowell. From the Christian Science Monitor. May 16. 1925"


Sam said...

Wow, you're getting a lot of culture! It sounds lovely, really. (well, not the Martian poet, lol)
I love magic realism. Alice Hoffman comes to mind. (and a few others, but my mind is rather blank tonight, lol)
You asked how long my books were. They range from huge doorstoppers (900 pages) to flash fiction and novellas. I have to admit I love all lengnths of fiction - but the novellas sell the best and (so far) have made the most money.
I have a couple very long ones I'm marketing. I just sent off a 2,000 word trilogy to an agent. I hope the postman doesn't drop it on her foot....

Sam said...
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Sam said...
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Wynn Bexton said...

Well as you're the expert I don't feel so bad with my lengthy historical. I decided long ago not to stress about the length and just let the characters develop. I've already marked the spots I can safely cut in my final draft. I didn't want to inhibit myself by worrying about page or word counts. When I began it I had no idea it was going to develop into such a saga!

Sam said...

I don't know why my posts sometimes come out in double or triple! Technology is so weird.
I'm no expert - but it is easier cutting than adding. And editors will chop, chop, chop!
The first time that happened I nearly died. Now it's not so much like someone cutting my fingers and toes off, lol.